Objective: The aim of this scoping review is to outline the current evidence regarding the management of restless legs syndrome (RLS) with nonpharmacologic approaches. To categorize the efficacy of conservative approaches in reducing symptoms of RLS, we have identified and summarized the current data regarding diagnostic criteria and relevant outcome measures, to inform future research and to guide clinical practice.
Methods: A scoping review was conducted using the National Center for Biotechnology Information; EBSCO; the Manual, Alternative and Natural Therapy Index System; the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature; and Scopus. All literature related to RLS was extracted, screened, and reviewed based on titles and abstract contents. The authors then extracted data from the 24 admissible studies, that is, the ones about manual therapy, exercises, and alternative treatments for RLS. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database scale was used to rate the methodological quality of the included randomized controlled trials by 2 independent readers.
Results: In the 24 articles fulfilling the selection criteria, there was a consistent trend in the findings showing positive results in lowering RLS symptom severity. Most clinical studies based their diagnosis on the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group diagnostic criteria; the International Restless Legs Syndrome Study Group rating scale was the most often used outcome measure. The efficacy of exercise, yoga, massage, acupuncture, traction straight leg raise, cryotherapy, pneumatic compression devices, whole-body vibration, transcranial and transcutaneous stimulation, and near-infrared lights showed different effects on RLS symptom severity, and the level of evidence was evaluated.
Conclusion: Our results showed clinically significant effects for exercises, acupuncture, pneumatic compression devices, and near-infrared light. Short-lasting effects were identified with whole-body cryotherapy, repetitive transcranial stimulation, and transcutaneous stimulation. More studies are necessary to investigate efficacy of yoga, massage, traction straight leg raise, and whole-body vibration. No adverse effects were identified for moderate-intensity exercise, yoga, massage, and pneumatic compression devices.
Author keywords: Restless Legs Syndrome; Therapy; Conservative Treatment; Pregnancy
Author affiliations: AG, MH, MD: Département des Sciences de l'Activité Physique, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada; JO: Département de Chiropratique, University of Quebec at Trois-Rivieres, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Canada.
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